Sorry I haven’t written in a while let’s just say my heart wasn’t in it. It has been a … shall we say … interesting … year, the painful end of a 25 year marriage, the end of my career at a company I thought I would retire from, a couple of minor heart attacks and another pair of stents to go with the pair I already own … … less than 18 months after the first ones and to cap it all off a 50th birthday, but actually I view that as a positive not a negative as I was here to have the 50th birthday. The pure good news however is that I am alive and kicking and have fishing experiences to share … … so life can’t really be too bad, can it.
I had stopped on the way to the Nantahala to pick up some flies the other day and to check out the new fly shop and Bamboo rod building facilities of my friend Bill Oyster and believe me when I say they were first class and way too cool for a guy like Bill, when the young man at the fly shop asked me when I was going to write something again, well honestly I was surprised that anyone would even much notice that I hadn’t written anything lately and it startled me into thinking how long it had been and how much I enjoy writing these long winded fishing narratives…… so here goes one more just for the **** of it.
We reach a point in our lives when we begin to accept the fact that we are getting older and that our physical capabilities are beginning to diminish and that we will simply have to accept a life where we can’t do some of the things that we might want to. I had settled into that role and was feeling way older than my 50 years. I saw a post on the internet early in the summer about one of my favorite streams of all time and it was by a man who had found the stream after identifying one of the photographs in my own story and searching it out for himself. I loved reading his great story but it made me sad to think I would never be able to hike into this difficult valley ever again and after that it made me mad. I spent some time thinking through the difficulties that I was having catching my breath and the fact that my chest hurt with minimal exertion and I decided to challenge my doctors and ask that they take a second look at my arteries and blood flow. Well that led to a trip to the hospital, another intimate close shave, cameras up the groin and 2 new stents. But as I woke up after the surgery and went through basic recovery, I realized that I felt wonderful and that my blood flow had never felt so good. So I spent 4 days a week walking in Georgia dreaming of the days when I could give myself a real hiking test in Colorado. I knew I really shouldn’t ever try the valley of my dreams again but at least I felt confident that I could handle the easy stuff at 10,000 feet once more.
Cool colorful Colorado as their tags used to say, is still the place of my dreams. The place I wake up from heart surgery wondering if I will still be able to make this year’s trip... and no I didn’t exactly ask……… after all forgiveness is much better than permission isn’t it. Every adult in my family was against me going to Colorado and pushing too hard… and everyone who knows me knows … pushing less than too hard isn’t exactly an option …….. and all of my nearly adult kids (read that as the ones with my same emotionally maturity) were saying **** if you are going to go why don’t you take me with you. So sure enough I took two wonderful trips to Colorado this summer and fall one with each of my two boys. They were both very different trips but they were both a pure slice of heaven for me … … the place I love best, the boys I love the most: one at a time, and a little fly fishing to pass the time of day.
The “Double D” adventure took place in the late part of July with Dick Davis and Drew Davis spending a week at the cabin in Creede. My heart stent surgery and the last heart attacks were less than a month old and I wasn’t sure what to expect so I was a little slow and shaky trying to figure out what the heck would happen. In hind sight I am pretty sure the first sets of stents collapsed pretty quickly after they went in as I never felt blood flow like this time. I just didn’t know what I was supposed to feel like and had no idea how good this whole blood flow concept should be……… but I was also a little scared that if I over did it then I would end up gasping for breath when climbing the stairs again. So naturally I did what all normal dis-functional macho assholes do……….. I ignored my fear and decided to just go for it.
My first view of the river from the porch of the family cabin is still as magical as the first time I ever stood on that deck and looked at the mighty Rio Grande rolling by like a silver thread a hundred feet below. That was many years ago and no matter how times I see it, my breathing slows and my pulse just stops and slides into a rhythm that matches the water below and I feel like I am truly and completely at home.
Spending time with my mother and my baby boy Drew (who is about to turn 21) was magical for me. Drew is struggling to find where and what he wants to make out of his life… … and at 50 I am still struggling with some of those same questions. So we got to spend time together and help each other work on our perspective and clarity while watching the sun set and the river roll. And if that setting won’t help you find your heart and soul then nothing will.
We headed down to the river early the next day as the excitement wouldn’t let me sleep any more than a six year old boy on Christmas morning. Expectations were high but there is always a nagging concern that somehow the fish will be gone or that I will have somehow forgotten how to catch them. Which is why I whooped in delight as I saw the indicator dip and set the hook in that combination of instinctive hand slide tightening the line and full blown rod tip hook set … both arms moving opposite like a fist pump in reverse, a celebration of the moment. I looked up to catch Drew’s eye as he was fishing just across the current from me, but my moment of superiority was shattered by the sound of that wonderful top forty sensation: the hardy reel drag “rag”……. Drew was hooked up as well and it appeared his was bigger than mine. Not fifteen minutes into the first morning and the pair of double d’s were into a double.
With a start like that you know the rest of the trip was bound to be a ringing success. We managed to catch fish out of all of the places you should and a few you shouldn’t. We fished the river behind the house most days. And with scenery like this why wouldn’t you.